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The following article was written for the Crimson by Professor Manley O. Hudson G. '07, Bemis Professor of International Law. Professor Hudson was a member of the American delegation to the Paris Conference in 1919, and during the following two years was one of the legal advisers to the Secretariat of the League of Nations. He is one of the leading advocates of both the Court and the League in this country and is regarded as the foremost authority on the legal aspects of these organizations.
The fight for the World Court has been won. America takes her places with 48 other nations in maintaining an institution which has proved itself indispensable to international society. We have not been frightened by the ogre of the League of Nations. We have not been hamstrung by the isolationists. We have not been converted to an ostrich policy. We are saying to 48 other peoples that we approve what they have done, that we welcome their success, and that we want to share in the product of their effort.
The reservations adopted by the Senate ought not to hamper the Court, and they ought not to hamper America. It is to be hoped that other countries will agree to them. They are such as to detract from the encouragement which the United States might have given to other countries in their support of the Court, but they are not such as to make it impossible for other countries to accept.
Of course the United States has not gained back her leadership in the movement for an international court. Considering the way in which the question has been handled in America there is little likelihood that we shall soon do so. But the action taken is to be welcomed, and it is a significant step in the right direction. Twenty-five years from now, when the Court has builder a great body of jurisprudence, we shall probably look back on the contests of this period with little satisfaction.
The Senate has set five reservations which must be accepted by other Powers, and two declarations which other Powers need not accept. The exchanges of notes with 48 other Powers will doubtless occupy some time. But it is to be hoped that the other Powers will be willing to proceed to it promptly. The reservations embody the original conditions framed by Secretary Hughes, but they also go further in providing that the United States may withdraw at any time, and in requiring advisory opinions to be given after due notice and after an opportunity for hearing, and in requiring American consent for any advisory opinion relating to a matter in which we have or claim an interest. No other country has set such conditions, and our opinion would probably be unfavorable if any other country did set them. But for the United States, we seem so uncertain of our position in the world that we must advertise our timidity in this way. Fortunately the reservations may not cripple the Court and they will probably have little effect on American action.
The declarations relate to our own domestic policy of the Monroe Doctrine, and to our constitutional machinery requiring cooperation of the Senate before the President can submit any case to the Court. Most Americans will find it difficult to take much, pride in these declarations. The need for them is by no means clear. But since they do not have to be accepted by other countries, they may not produce any international complications.
On the whole, Americans can be glad that the hurdle has been taken. The way is now open for us to play a significant part in international cooperation, and in time we shall doubtless catch step with the rest of the world.
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